Advent Week 2 (Year C): Look Up, There's Beauty

Look, I know week 2 of Advent is usually about peace. But the lectionary passages for the day are so strongly themed with beauty, particularly the Apocryphal passage, that I couldn’t resist. Plus, it’s how we’re interpreting it this year at Peace for our Advent sermon series entitled “Look Up". So, a little beauty in your Advent mix this year.

God, it’s easy for us to get bogged down
In our to-do lists,
The problems we must solve,
The needs we must meet,
The expectations we put upon ourselves,
The crises we must manage --
And forget that beneath everything
There is the hum of beauty.

Beneath dust and decay,
There is a sheen of value.
Beneath disease and distress,
There is a sparkle of wisdom.
Beneath the appearance of death,
There is the glimmer of rebirth.
Beneath the cloak of sorrow and affliction,
There is the endless beauty of the glory from God (1).

Awaken us, oh God, to the beauty beneath,
The beauty that confronts us
With your presence and power,
Your plan and purpose.

We know that by the tender mercy of our God,
The dawn from on high will break upon us,
And the beauty of God will overwhelm our senses.
May we be alert, and looking for it.

Amen

1) Baruch 5:1


Litany for Addressing Racism

Hello, my name is Fran and I’m a racist.* I don’t intend to be a racist, and I don’t want to be a racist. I’m committed to uncovering and clearing it out from within myself. This may take my whole life. I know I can’t easily escape hundreds of years of cultural imprinting. This kind of deep principality can only come out by means of prayer, fasting, and long-term intention and work.

I’m less of a racist now than I used to be, I think. Which is good. But I’m nowhere near done with my transformation. I don’t have any degrees or credentials in the subject, nor have I read all the books (I’ve read some). My street cred as an advocate is next to nothing. I defer to folks who have done this work far longer and far better than my imperfect bumbling. And I defer to my sisters and brothers of color who have lived experience inside racist culture.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been pondering a few things related to current events and cultural programming. One is Thanksgiving - how the narrative taught to school children regarding the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is largely inaccurate and whitewashed, as well as hurtful to Indigenous people.  Another is the tear-gassing of impoverished Brown people at the US border. Another is the result of recent elections, particularly those in Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi; all of which were influenced by racism against Black people (example).  

People of color have been seeing racism all along - they bear its effects in their family histories, their bodies, their bank accounts. This is not new. It’s us white folks who have waking up to do. It’s up to us to pray with humility and educate ourselves. Also: not enough white pastors are preaching about it. So this litany is for us; for white individuals and congregations who want to pray into this deep-rooted system of injustice, and posture ourselves to work for the liberation and restoration of our siblings; and who want to uncover racism where it lies hidden in our own hearts.

Oh God, we are gradually waking up
To the knowledge of our deep and hidden sins;
Most particularly, to the sin of racism
Which has affected our culture, psyche, and practice.

We thought we could say, “Oh, those racist generations have passed on. The civil rights movement already happened.”
We thought we had leveled the playing field.
We thought we could ignore Whiteness.
We thought we didn’t have to see color.
But we know that we have more work to do,
To cleanse, heal and establish justice.

We quit before the work was finished.
We were wrong.

Help us to see what we couldn’t see before.
Help us to examine everything:
Every custom and system,
Every group dynamic and assumption,
To leave no stone unturned in our mission
To rout out injustice;
To take every thought captive (1)
To the loving ethic of Christ.

This work is messy.
We feel sensitive about it.**
We feel overwhelmed and ashamed.
Help us not to minimize or shirk,
Nor capitulate to our fragile egos,
Nor be blinded by our privilege.
Give us robust hearts,
Willing to take an unflinching look at the racism within us.

And as we sift through our habits, culture and customs,
Examining them with a new sensitivity to injustice,
Help us to embody hope,
Peacemaking,
Restoration,
And above all, love for our neighbors.

Make us aligned to the Community of Heaven,
Diligently working for liberation.

Amen

1) 2 Corinthians 10:5

*If you are a white person of privilege and you say you aren’t a racist, well, you’re probably wrong and it’s best to just face it. Read more here.

**Our feelings of sensitivity as white people are small compared to the feelings of people of color who experience oppression and fear for their lives. But that doesn’t mean the feelings don’t get in our way regardless.


Litany for Appreciation

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Everyone is talking about my favorite things this week: Gratitude. But I actually want to talk about the thing I consider the precursor to gratitude: Appreciation.

I have heard and read a lot of spiritual teachers from many different backgrounds say something to this effect: if you can get your mind/attitude/energy into a mode of appreciation, you can change your life because then you start to change how you perceive your life. Teachers from all walks of life say: appreciation is a precursor to gratitude, and gratitude is a precursor to love.

A patron recently called my attention to this passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which we see this rare attitude of appreciation illuminated:


11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus[a] was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers[b] approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’[c] feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Ten are healed. One expresses appreciation. And I get the sense that when Jesus says “your faith has made you well” he means more than just physical wellness. I have a hunch that Jesus is acknowledging this attitude of gratitude to be a deeper inroad to wholeness; and that, somehow, appreciation is a bold exercise of faith. But here’s a thing I notice: to appreciate something, we first have to be paying attention to it. And attention is a costly thing - it takes intention and practice and deep looking. It takes what many spiritual teachers call Mindfulness.

In her book _Grateful_, Diana Butler Bass says, “Gratitude is not only an emotion; it is something we do. It is like tending a garden. It takes planting and watering and weeding. It takes time and attention. It takes learning. It takes routine. But, eventually, the ground yields, shoots come forth, and thanksgiving blooms.”

I wonder if all ten of those ex-lepers felt gratitude, but only one had any experience with doing gratitude? And if the teachers are right and the roadmap looks like this: (Attention → Appreciation → Gratitude → Love), then what does that mean for how we go about cultivating love and loving action in our lives? It’s a pretty good question, I think. Here’s a prayer for the roadmap:

God, as we seek to live lives of intentional love,
We acknowledge the importance of paying attention
To the deep self,
To the external lesson,
To the need and the want,
To the fulfillment and the calling,
To the disease and the healing,
To the existence and the blessing.

We are learning how to cultivate and grow love and loving action:
Starting with attention and observation,
Moving into appreciation and thankfulness,
Letting gratitude shift us into love.

We know that love is the foundation of the universe -
That the deepest particle,
The inmost kernel,
The alpha and the omega, is love.

But sometimes, in the midst of everything happening to us,
Love is kind of hard to get to.
So we are learning to start somewhere even simpler:
By paying attention,
By offering appreciation,
By letting appreciation lead to gratitude.

And we know that if we can get in gratitude’s groove and vicinity
It can show us the way to love,
Even in murky waters,
Even in complicated situations.

So, boldly, resisting the voices that tell us to duck and run,
We do our first act of faith,
Which is to appreciate even the meagerest of blessings,
And offer praise and thanksgiving. Amen


Litany for You're Enough, a.k.a. Litany for Hannah (Year B, Proper 28)

This week’s Lectionary reading brings us to the story of Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel. Hannah’s culture has taught her that to be worthy as a woman she must behave appropriately (1 Samuel 1:16), be wife to a decent man, and bear male children. Sons. Sons are the pinnacle of womanly accomplishment and worth in this context. Hannah has everything else: a husband who loves and prefers her over his other wife, a household, social status, food on the table. But she has no son, a situation she mourns bitterly.  And, even worse, her husband’s other wife rubs it in her face all the time. Rivalry and jealousy between these women makes the pain of her barrenness even worse. We can imagine her home being fairly toxic on the inside, despite appearing prosperous on the outside.

So Hannah regularly pleads with God to give her this thing, this one thing that she believes will complete her life and save her from worthlessness. She weeps and mourns bitterly before the Lord. So bitterly in fact that Eli the priest thinks for a moment that she has come into the temple drunk.

And God in God’s mercy capitulates. God gives her what she wants, the son she bargains and begs for, that she believes will fulfill her. Which is great! And a kid is a good thing to want! God is pretty nice like that, although that’s not everyone’s story. Plenty of people beg and plead for things (or babies) they want and never get them. Or they get them in ways they didn’t anticipate.

But here’s the secret: when we circle back around to the love and regard of God, the truth we’ll eventually find is that we already had what we needed. There’s nothing we have to do or have to make God love us. God’s love is before and behind everything; it’s the base-level assumption we can make. The abundance of love we get doesn’t depend upon our relationships with other people, or what we do, or how healthy we are, or what babies we have or don’t have.

All the ways society tries to sell us on the idea that we aren’t worthy as we are, we aren’t enough as we are, we aren’t pretty or thin enough, we aren’t rich or accomplished enough, we aren’t nice enough, we aren’t bold enough - it’s all rubbish. You’ve got exactly what you need to be loved and welcomed by God.

So, Hannah, we’re really glad you had Samuel - that turned out pretty well. But if you hadn’t, you’d still be worthy of a story.

God, our culture is always sending us messages
That say we aren’t enough.
Our economy is always trying to sell us something
That will make us worthy.

When the whole truth, and the whole message of Christ
Is that the Community of God is right here, right now,
And we have everything we need to live in it,
To be fulfilled by Love.

Yes, there are things we want to do and have in this life,
But none of them make us worthy of love.
Our dignity and belovedness are innate -
The love of God toward us is a given.

So much of the work we are here to do
Is to learn to notice love -
How it’s already abundant
Already evident
Already the fabric of the universe
Already shareable.

Our belovedness, and the resources that affords us
Are what we must wake up to,
So that we can silence the voices that shame and destroy,
And be a people who walk in love.

Through all the noise we hear the voice of God saying:
“You are loved.
You are love.
You love.”

Amen.


Litany for the Widow’s Mite (Year B, Proper 27)

This litany is inspired by this week’s Lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark.

God, many of us don’t think we have much to offer.
We discount our gifts, creativity, or abilities;
Or we have trauma that keeps us from offering,
Or we don’t trust ourselves.

But we know that you see us and are inviting us to give,
No matter how small the gift.
We know that you accept us,
    Even our two-bit gifts,
    Our meagerness,
    Our poverty of heart;
Because you are abundantly loving,
    Abundantly patient,
    Abundantly kind,
    Abundantly generous.

And we know that when we offer up ourselves,
Our time,
Our resources,
Our attention,
You make miracles with what we’ve offered -
Water becomes wine (1),
Loaves and fishes become food for thousands (2),
Streams flow in deserts (3).

No gift is too small in your eyes,
No start is too humble,
No moment too late,
No effort unseen.

The smallest seed becomes the largest tree.
The most ordinary generosity changes the world.

So, we offer to you our mites and bits
And ask for them to be enlarged,
That you would expand our efforts and our seeing
So that we may be part of the transformation.

Amen

  1. John 2:1-11

  2. John 6:1-14

  3. Psalm 107:35

Litany for Neighbors (Proper 24, Year B)

This litany is inspired by a reading of this week’s Gospel passage from Mark 12.

Christ, you taught us the keys to life,
The greatest commandments:
Love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength;
Love our neighbors as ourselves (1).

We are asked to love Love
And to serve Love.
Teach us what this means, oh God,
And help us to do it well.

So fill us with love, oh God,
That we don’t have room for anything else.
Let us be enlarged and expanded
And awakened by Love.

Let our eyes never veer from Love,
Our hearts never stray from Love,
Our minds be fixed on Love,
Our bodies dedicated to love’s service.
And as we do the work of learning to accept and love ourselves,
Let us also accept and love our neighbors.  

Let care and concern for our neighbors well-being and highest good
Be the hallmark of our work.
For these are our neighbor and our family:
The poor, the lonely, the sick, the prisoner
The underdog, the misunderstood, the ones who long,
The far-away and the beggar at our gate,
The flawed and the downtrodden
The familiar and the alien.

Love is who and Whose we are.
And love is what we do.
Amen.


  1. Mark 12:30,31

Litany for Good Things (Proper 25, Year B)

This litany is based on a reading of the Lectionary passages for this week from Job, Psalms, and Jeremiah: “With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble…”

God, you invented all things from nothing.
Your imagination was the beginning of everything.
We get to experience life and beauty
Because you imagined them.
We get to explore and learn in the world
Because you brought us out of yourself.

We get stuck a lot on judging things and situations.
We say “this is good and that is bad.”
We approve some things and condemn others.
We accept some experiences and resist others.

But the truth is, resistance causes us suffering;
No purpose of yours can be thwarted (1).
The truth is, we can’t know the vastness of your goodness,
And our best option is to surrender to it.

Even in what we consider trouble,
You do good things.
Even when we experience pain,
You do good things.
Even when all we see is chaos,
You do good things.

We surrender now to the Highest Good,
The Deepest Joy,
The Biggest Love,
The Best Life.
And it’s in you, God; made by and through you, for you, for us:
The Divine Goodness.

May we who sow in tears
Reap with shouts of joy (2).
May we seek Goodness
And find it all the days of our lives.

Amen

1) Job 42:2
2) Psalm 126:5



Litany for Conscious Anger

God, so many of us go around with anger simmering right under the surface of our emotions:
We’ve been wronged.
We’ve been traumatized.
We’ve been duped.
There is injustice.
There are broken systems.
We’re angry with ourselves.
We’re angry with others.

And sometimes we can’t understand what you’re doing so we are angry with you
We feel you’ve forgotten us.
We feel like the world is falling to pieces around us,
And you have failed us.

Our anger can be a useful tool
That propels us toward right action,
Fuels our good works,
And causes us to change.

But sometimes our anger doesn’t find its proper place -
It burrows down and festers;
Causing us more pain than the wound did to begin with,
And its effects seep out sideways.

Oh God, teach us to deal rightly with anger:
To funnel its energy properly,
To release it at the appropriate time and place,
To protect ourselves from anger gone bad.

Teach us how not to fight anger with anger,
But to be peacemakers and lovers;
Reflecting the image of Christ,
And covered in grace. Amen

Litany for the Heart (Proper 17, Year B)

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This week’s Gospel reading comes from Mark 7, where Jesus is challenged by some Pharisees as to why his disciples don’t follow all the rules they ought to. And Christ seems to think they are focusing on the wrong things, that the inward state of the heart is more worth working on.

 

God, the current of your love is flowing to us;
We don’t want anything to get in the way of it -
Not anything outside of us,
Or anything inside our own hearts.

We are beginning to understand that evil
Is whatever impedes love.
So help us, God; and don’t let us get caught in the trap
Of following rules,
Of observing tradition,
Of controlling behavior,
Of managing appearances,
And ignoring the state of our hearts.

We know we must be transformed from the inside out
That we must do inner work to become aligned with love:*
Disconnecting from judgement,
Releasing resentment,
Clearing hostility,
Relinquishing pride,
Cultivating compassion,
Creating peace.

And we know that we must allow love to work on us, removing impediments,
Restoring us to our truest nature:
God-children,
Love-centered,
Heart-open,
Christ-conscious,
Creative beings,
Reflecting your heart in ours.

Let our hearts, like beacons, point the way to yours,
Shining Love’s illumination. Amen


*I actually believe we ARE aligned with love, we just have to wake up and realize it, and clear out all the stuff that keeps us from seeing it. But for the purposes of the flow of this prayer, I’m using this wording.

Litany for Revealing

Last week’s news about large-scale sexual abuse of children by clergy in a Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has shaken and sickened a lot of people, myself included. It’s another example of the great revealing (apocalypse) that is happening in these days. Hidden things are coming to light. #metoo and #churchtoo are happening. White supremacy and racism are coming to the forefront of the collective consciousness in a new way. Motives and deep-seated sins, what the scriptures call “powers, principalities, and spiritual forces,” are being revealed. Evils that have gone unacknowledged (in a mainstream way) are coming into light.

I believe this is the Community of Heaven breaking in. And our task is not to resist it, but to become contemplative, to listen and examine our complicities, to search our own hearts; to “get our people,” as my Black teachers say - by which they mean we should be speaking to our own tribes and inner circles and helping them get on board and understand.

Whenever I think of what’s been happening the last couple of years*, I get the image in my mind of a glacier moving over a land mass, slowly slowly, leaving behind a mess of rubble and fertile soil and reshaped landscape. Our first step is admitting our landscape needs reshaping, which we can’t see unless we step back far enough to get a good view. The evidence is in every school shooting, every Black life ended by police, every Nazi rally, every sexual abuse scandal, every Latinx child separated from her parents at the border, every executed prisoner, and on and on. Without a doubt, our landscape needs reshaping.

And it’s coming. Millimeter by millimeter. Breath by breath. Prayer by prayer. Awakening by awakening. It’s coming and is happening now. The kingdom of God is at hand. The Community of Heaven has work to do. We shirk and deny and resist and cling to the past at our own risk. Help or get out of the way.

 

God, forces are at work in our world,
Which are at odds with your goals:
Death and destruction,
Injustice and abuse,
Apathy and self-centeredness,
Violence and hatred,
Status quo and inertia,
Distraction and disregard.

Evil is being revealed,
And hidden sins brought to light.
But ahead we can see,
Your kingdom coming,
Your people awakening,
Your glory shining.

We can see how today’s messy revealing
Is tomorrow’s hope,
How the rubble of today’s destroyed systems
Is tomorrow’s fertile soil.

So we trust,
And we follow,
And we stay awake
And we keep watch.
And we don’t shirk our work,
And we don’t deny our complicity,
And we don’t disempower the prophets,
And we don’t silence the marginalized.
And we don’t surround ourselves with so much noise that we can’t hear your voice.
And we don’t allow ourselves to despair.

We beat our swords into ploughshares.
We set our tables and open our doors.
We make way for the Community of God.
We prepare the way of the Lord.

Help us to humbly accept all the change that must happen,
In our society and in our own hearts,
To work together for new life and for good,
And to walk the peaceful way of Christ. Amen

 

*Really, what's been happening has been happening for a couple millenia, with various movements and intensities. I'm taking a micro-within-a-macro view here. With lots of gratitude and appreciation for the saints who have gone before me.
 

Litany for Wisdom (Proper 15, Year B)

This week’s Lectionary selections center around Wisdom, and the search for Wisdom. We see Wisdom personified as a Divine Feminine aspect in Proverbs; we hear God’s pleasure in Solomon’s request for Wisdom in 1 Kings; and we are exhorted to live “not as unwise people, but wise” in Ephesians 5. In the Proverbs, we are invited to eat the bread at Wisdom's table, and later in John 6, Christ identifies himself as that bread.


God, as Solomon asked for Wisdom of old,
So we ask for insight and understanding.

We hear Wisdom calling (1);
Let us answer her.
Come, let us commune with Wisdom:
Let us enter her house,
Eat of her table,
And enjoy her delights.

For you have offered yourself, oh God:
Wisdom, Word, and Bread -
Different facets of yourself, different metaphors;
Same loving Spirit.

Give us hearts that hunger and thirst for Wisdom,
For true wisdom and understanding:
That we may lay aside immaturity, and live,
That we may and walk in the way of insight (2).
That we may depart from evil, and do good;
That we may seek peace, and pursue it (3);
Making for ourselves and the generations to come,
A world rich in spirit, and rich in peace.

Amen

1) Proverbs 9:3
2) Proverbs 9:6
3) Psalm 34:14

Litany for Embracing Race

As I have been getting an education on race, and as injustices and harm continue to happen, and as our society's inherent racism continues to be revealed; I feel compelled to write about race. I write as a white person primarily to white people. I write as a pastor, sometimes preacher, friend, and as an ally of People of Color. If you need a place to start your education, I recommend Austin Channing-Brown's _I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness_.


God, we can get an education in injustice,
If we are open to receiving it.
Soften our hearts, oh God,
That we may be willing to learn.

We acknowledge that the structures that make up our society have advantaged whiteness,
And disadvantaged People of Color.
We acknowledge that our Black and Brown siblings suffer in the same institutions and circumstances
In which whiteness finds comfort.
We acknowledge that privilege has suffering as its underbelly,
And oppression as its hidden cost.

We know that the time has come for our collective blindness to be revoked,
For the comfort of whiteness to lose priority,
For the weight of institutional injustice to be lifted,
For us to confront our pride,
For humility to become our prized virtue,
For listening to characterize our conversations.

Thank you for sending us the Christ
To show us a vision of a New Society
     A New City
     A New Era
     A New Government
     A New Law:
Where humanity is seen and valued;
Where privilege is a thing to be shared;
Where deference and gentleness are our best conventions;
Where institutions care for the disadvantaged;
Where race is not only tolerated, but embraced and admired;
Where diversity is beauty;
Where we are able to look beyond basic equality,
     toward Abundant Life and thriving for all (1).

And we are thankful, Oh God, for that institution begun by Christ -
The Church, the Body of Christ on Earth -
In which we re-imagine human relationships in light of Christ’s priorities;
And for this life you give us, which is love’s proving ground.

Amen

1) John 10:10

Litany for Compassion Fatigue (Proper 11, Year B)

In this week's Gospel reading, we see a tired Christ surrounded by tired disciples, looking for some rest and respite from their work. But they can't find it, even when they get on a boat and sail away to an empty place. Crowds of the sick and needy still find them there. And Christ sees the crowd and Mark's gospel says "he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."

If you are suffering from compassion fatigue in these times, you're not alone. Maybe this litany will be helpful to you.

 

God, we bear witness to Christ:
In scripture,
In spirit,
And in our own experience.

We see the times when he and his disciples were exhausted
By the constant cries of distressed people,
By exerting themselves in service
By crowds and noise and need.

We have felt those same feelings,
And needed similar rest.

Help us not to grow irritable or resistant
To the needs of human beings;
But to have compassion for your people,
The sheep of your pasture.
For we are among them,
Hungry and in need of healing;
Hoping to touch the fringe of Christ’s cloak (Mark 6:56),
Hoping for miracles.

Help us to find respite from noise and distraction
And find connection with you,
Life with you,
Nourishment with you,
Peace with you,
Rest with you.

As as we daily enter the quiet place of restoration,
May we find you there.
And when we must go a little farther, pour out a little more,
May we receive our strength from you.
Amen

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for the Desperate

This week's Lectionary passages contain such amazing stories and David and Goliath and Christ stilling the sea, but also a deep sense of God's care for the afflicted and desperate.

 

God, it’s mostly by our own collective blindness
That we have the poor among us.
This is the pit we have made and fallen into;
This is the net that has caught us (1):
We favored the rich
And disregarded the needy.

But, by your mercy, the needy won’t always be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor perish (2).

Over and over in the scriptures, we read stories of people who miraculously overcome great obstacles:
     Boys who slay giants with stones (3),
     Women who defeat armies with tent pegs (4),
     Full jars of oil and grain despite famine (5),
     Desperate fathers whose daughters rise from deathbeds (6),
     Locked prison doors flying open (7),
     Dangerous seas calmed at a word (8),
     Crucified Christ resurrected (9).
From these stories, and many more
We take hope.

For in our deepest desperation,
You meet us.
In our poverty of spirit,
You meet us.
In our blindness and apathy,
You meet us.

Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to in this life,
But your eye is always on the afflicted.
Come to us now, Holy One, in our desperation and need;
Still our storms;
Bring us all to a place of rest,
And make us glad in the quiet. (10) Amen.*


*I recommend including a pause for silence here.

  1. Psalm 9:15

  2. Psalm 9:18

  3. 1 Samuel 17:49

  4. Judges 4:21

  5. 2 Kings 4:1-7

  6. Mark 5:23

  7. Acts 16:26

  8. Mark 4:39

  9. Mark 16:6

  10. Psalm 107:30

 

Litany for the Border

If you're unaware of what's happening currently at the US Border, please read up on it. And pray.
 

Oh God, we lament the trauma that is happening to asylum seekers at the U.S. Border
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to separation of families, the desperation of parents and children, and the degradation of their dignity.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the violence and corruption that is forcing these immigrants to leave their home countries.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to corrupt government, violent power structures, and poor living conditions in Central America.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the policy decisions enacted by our own U.S. leadership that have led to the traumatizing of children and infants.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for humane and just legislation to be passed by congress immediately.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament our own societal apathy, our tendency to be blind and uncaring toward the alien, the refugee, the orphan, the widow.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for the reformation of our own hearts, that we may have the compassion and wisdom of Christ.
Lord, have mercy.

For peace in Central America,
We pray to the Lord.
For humane practices at our borders,
We pray to the Lord.
For just and compassionate government here at home,
We pray to the Lord.
For loving hearts toward all seeking safety,
We pray to the Lord.  

May the love of Christ compel and bind us, from the poorest and most powerless to the most privileged and powerful.
May the light of Christ shine upon us all. Amen

Litany for God Our Father

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This is a companion litany to Litany for God Our Mother.


God, who created fathers
And invented fathering,
Help us to see you more completely,
In your wholeness.

For those of us who don’t have fathers
Be our good father.
For those of us who have painful relationships with our fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are fathers of children,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are spiritual fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us whose ideas about fathering need reinventing,
Be our good father.

We know that for you, being a good father does not mean toxic masculinity,
Or domination,
But that you care for us with exceeding kindness,
     With attentiveness (1),
     With celebration (2),
     With generosity (3),
     With surrounding (4),
     With provision (5),
     With emotion (6),
     With love (7).

We know that you are father, mother, friend, helper
Lover of our souls;
Your love is constantly exceeding our expectations,
And redefining our terms.

May we reflect your fathering love,
Living in light of your example. Amen

1)Isaiah 65:24
2) Luke 15:22-23
3) Timothy 6:17
4) Psalm 32:7
5) Luke 11:11
6) Psalm 86:15, Zephaniah 3:17

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for Crazy ol' Jesus

The Lectionary passages for Proper 5 (Year B) contain the story of the time Jesus' family thought he had gone crazy. His ideas and practices were so far outside of their comfort zone that they thought he'd gone nuts. The text says: “When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).

This is what I love about him. Unexpected, unconventional, challenger of expectations and assumption; dumping old paradigms for what's sane and respectable and inventing new ones made out of entirely different stuff.

 

Christ, you arrived on earth with a lot of harebrained ideas.
People thought you were crazy
For your unconventional brand of kindness,
For breaking rules,
For making unexplainable miracles happen,
For re-interpreting scripture,
For rejecting violent means ,
For consorting with sinners,
For re-defining family (1);
For giving unexpected advice:
     Like, love your enemies
     Be humble
     Pray for those who persecute you
     Don’t judge
     Consider the poor
     Make peace.

You baffled everybody you met, from the time you were a child.
You’re still astounding us now.

It’s this same unpredictable grace,
This dazzling mercy,
This lively Love
This upside-down agenda,
That captures our imaginations many years after you last walked the earth in flesh.
We are captivated by you.

Look, here are our hearts:
Put your own heart in us.
Look, here are our minds:
Awaken them.
Look, here are our hands:
Show us the work to do.
Look, here are our voices:
Teach us to speak mercy.

You, crazy old Jesus! You ineffable Force of Love:
You’re the one we want to follow.

Amen
 

1) Mark 3:35

Litany for Re-Birth

This litany is based upon the Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday, Year B, the story of Nicodemus and his nighttime run on enlightenment. If you're looking for a litany more specifically geared toward Trinitarian themes, please see this one.

 

Christ, we hate to admit that we can identify with Nicodemus,
Who had a reputation to uphold;
So he came to visit you at night, through the back door; (1)
Burning with curiosity,
Hoping for enlightenment on the sly.
You know how secretly needy we are.

You are a leader of rascals and rebels,
Keeper of mysteries,
Able to reach over the laws of nature
And grab hold of the miraculous,
Pulling it into our here and now:
Miracles of healing and transcendence.

We are fascinated by you,
And a little confused.
We are humbled by you.
You teach us how little we know.

You are like a telescope,
Showing us the mysteries of heaven.
You are like a mirror,
Showing us our potential.

You seem to speak to us in riddles: To get to the end,
We must go back to the beginning.
To get to the Community of God
We must be re-born. (2)

Well, birth is a messy business,
A rite of passage for all.
Grant that we may participate in this mystery:
To be born of spirit
From the womb of heaven
Into the arms of heaven.

Amen

1) John 3:2
2) John 3:3

Litany for God Our Mother

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I came across this hymn “Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth” written by Jean Janzen (1991) and based on text from the 14th Century mystic Julian of Norwich.

Mothering God, you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of every breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.

Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of new life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.

Mothering Spirit, nurturing one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flow’r, until I know.

The beauty and simplicity of Janzen's lyrics were part of the inspiration for this week’s Mother’s Day litany. I know that there are many for whom motherhood is a painful subject. I wanted to create space here for those who are not mothers but wish they were, for those for whom motherhood has caused pain, for those whose mothers were unhealthy or hurtful, for those who have lost mothers or children, and for those who don't aspire to motherhood.

There are also those of us women who grew up in churchy contexts who were taught that motherhood was the pinnacle of our aspirations in life. That woman = husband + child. That somehow, on our own we were unworthy of existence. So I also want to create space for those who have had to do battle against those ideas. You are worthy of the loving nurture of God; God's eye is on mothers and non-mothers and non-traditional mothers alike.


Great Mother God
Who created mothers
And invented mothering,
Mother us now:
    Into your peace and comfort,
    Into your nurturing love,
    Into the kindness of your presence,
    Into the shadow of your wings.

We know that mothering takes many forms,
And is done by many kinds of people
In different ways and situations;
Give us the wisdom of your mother-heart.

We know that love is risky:
There’s always the possibility of pain,
The risk of disappointment or loss.
Give us the courage of your mother-heart.

We bring to you the cares of the brokenhearted.
We bring to you the pain of the disappointed.
We bring to you the hardship of the overwhelmed.
We bring to you the ache of the separated.

Teach us the worth of our own souls,
And the value of our existence.

Give us your mother-love:
To heal us,
To nourish us,
To share freely with the world.
Amen